Troyal Garth Brooks, known professionally as Garth Brooks (born February 7, 1962) is an American country music singer-songwriter. Successfully integrating rock elements into his recordings and live performances, Brooks soon began to dominate the country singles and country album charts and quickly crossed over into the mainstream pop arena, exposing country music to a larger audience.
Brooks has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in popular music history, breaking records for both sales and concert attendance throughout the 1990s. The RIAA have certified his recording's at a combined (128× platinum), denoting roughly 113 million U.S shipments. He's also listed as the best-selling artist of Nielsen Soundscan era (1991 - onwards), with approximately 67,774,000 albums sold (as of April 5th, 2008). He is second only to The Beatles in America. To his credit, Garth Brooks has released six albums to achieve diamond status in the United States, those being; Garth Brooks - (10.00× Multi Platinum), No Fences - (17.00× Multi Platinum), Ropin' the Wind - (14.00× Multi Platinum), The Hits - (10.00× Multi Platinum), Sevens - (10.00× Multi Platinum) & Double Live - (21.00× Multi Platinum).
Troubled by conflicts between career and family, in 2001 Brooks officially retired from recording and performing. During this time he has sold millions of albums through an exclusive distribution deal with Wal-Mart and has sporadically released new singles.
His follow-up album, No Fences, was released in 1990 and spent 23 weeks as #1 on the Billboard country music chart. The album also reached #3 on the pop chart, and eventually became Brooks's highest-selling album, with domestic shipments of 17 million. It contained what would become Brooks' signature song, the blue collar anthem "Friends in Low Places", as well as two other Brooks classics, the dramatic and controversial "The Thunder Rolls" and the philosophically ironic "Unanswered Prayers". Each of these songs, as well as the affectionate "Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House," reached #1 on the country chart. While Brooks' musical style placed him squarely within the boundaries of country music, he was strongly influenced by the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, especially the works of James Taylor (whom he idolized and named his first child after) and Dan Fogelberg. Similarly, Brooks was influenced by the operatic rock of the 1970s-era Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. In his highly successful live shows, Brooks used a wireless headset microphone to free himself to run about the stage, adding energy and arena rock theatrics to spice up the normally staid country music approach to concerts. The hard rock band KISS was also one of his earliest grade school musical influences and his shows often reflected this. Brooks said that the style of his show was inspired mostly by Chris LeDoux.
After spending time in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots, Brooks co-wrote the gospel-country-rock hybrid "We Shall Be Free" to express his desire for tolerance. The song became the first single off his fourth album The Chase. With its message of support for cultural tolerance, the song met with resistance from country radio stations and from the culturally conservative country audience. It only reached #12 on the country chart, his first song in three years to fail to make the top ten. Nevertheless, the song often received standing ovations when performed in concert, went to #22 in the Christian charts through a marketing deal with Rick Hendrix Company, and earned Brooks a 1993 GLAAD Media Award.
Despite the delay in shipping the album to certain stores, In Pieces was another instant #1 success, selling a total of about 10 million copies world-wide. Some of his fans were upset, however, that the album was not released simultaneously around the world. In the United Kingdom, one of Brooks' most committed fan bases outside the United States, country music disc jockeys, such as Martin Campbell and John Wellington, noted that many fans were buying the album on import. This made it the first album to debut in the top 10 of the UK Country album charts before its official release date. Once officially released there, in 1994, the album reached the top spot on the UK Country chart and number two on the UK pop albums chart. That same year "The Red Strokes" became Brooks' first single to make the pop top 40 in the UK, reaching a high of number 13; it was followed by "Standing Outside The Fire", which reached number 23. Previous albums No Fences, Ropin' The Wind and The Chase also remained in the top 30 in the UK.
To support the album, Brooks embarked on a 1994 UK tour, selling out venues such as Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and London's Wembley Arena. He opened the London radio station, Country 1035 and made a number of general television and radio appearances, where he was often mocked by the presenters. On ITV's regional news show London Tonight, Brooks was described as "a top-selling, rooting tooting, cotton picking, Country and Western star, yeeha!" The nationwide Big Breakfast show's presenters Chris Evans and Paula Yates, commented that "He's selling more records than anyone in the world, but none of us have ever heard of him." Yates then told Brooks that, "Country singers always seem to be weeping over the dead dog and things," and also remarked, "I thought you'd come in here and twiddle your pistol around and be impressed." Although Brooks remained polite, he did observe that Yates was obviously unfamiliar with modern country music. Scores of Brooks fans later wrote to complain about his treatment on the show. Sometime after this, Dwight Yoakam appeared on the same show and after Yates told him, "You seem different from other Country singers we've had on the show," Yoakam replied, "What? All two of us?"
Despite the disdain of the British media, Brooks's overall popularity in the country was evident, with a top disc jockey, Nick Barraclough, referring to Brooks as Garth Vader (a play on Darth Vader) for his "invasion" of the charts and his success as an icon of the country genre. Unlike Alan Jackson, who refused to return to the UK after being treated in a similar manner by the press, Brooks returned in 1996 for more sold-out concerts, although this time his media appearances were mostly restricted to country radio and interviews with magazines.
In 1994 Brooks paid homage to one of his musical influences when he appeared on the hard rock compilation Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved, a collection of Kiss cover songs by popular artists from all genres. As the only country performer to participate, some worried that Brooks would turn his cover of the song originally sung by drummer Peter Criss, "Hard Luck Woman", into a country song. Brooks instead insisted on remaining true to the song, and requested that the members of Kiss perform the music on the track, the only song on the album that the band musically contributed. The unlikely collaboration performed the song live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in promotion of Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved , and despite its hard-rock appeal, Brooks' version did appear on the country charts.
In 1997, Brooks released his seventh studio album, Sevens. Originally, it was scheduled to be released in August 1997, when he would promote it with a concert in Central Park. Plans went awry when Capitol Records experienced a huge management shakeup, leaving many of his contacts at the label out in the cold. The album was then released in November 1997, and debuted at #1 on both the Top Country Albums and Billboard 200 album charts in the United States, and later became his fourth album to reach a sales of 10 million copies. Its first single was also Brooks' first duet, "In Another' Eyes" with friend and popular country singer, Trisha Yearwood. The song peaked at #2 on the Country Charts. The album spawned three additional Top 10 Country hits, including two #1 hits between 1997 and 1998, "Two Pina Coladas" and "To Make You Feel My Love", which also was a Top 10 hit on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
Brooks' endless promotion of the album and the film did not seem to stir much excitement and the success of the Chris Gaines experiment became fairly evident mere weeks after the album was released. Although critics admired Brooks for taking a musical risk, the majority of the American public was either totally bewildered, or completely unreceptive to the idea of Garth Brooks as anything but a pop-country singer. Many of his fans also felt that by supporting the Gaines project they would lose the real Garth Brooks. Sales of the album were unspectacular and although it made it to #2 on the pop album chart, expectations had been higher and retail stores began heavily discounting their oversupply. Less than expected sales of the album (more than two million) and no further developments in the production of the film as a result brought the project to an indefinite hiatus in February 2001 and Gaines quickly faded into obscurity.
Despite the less than spectacular response to the Chris Gaines project, Brooks gained his first - and only - US Top 40 pop single in "Lost in You", the first single from the album.
On October 26, 2000, Brooks officially announced his retirement from recording and performing. Later that evening, Capitol Records saluted his achievement of selling 100 million albums in the US with a lavish party at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Brooks's final album, Scarecrow, was released on November 13, 2001. The album did not match the sales levels of Brooks's heyday, but still sold comfortably well, reaching #1 on both the pop and country charts. Although he staged a few performances for promotional purposes, Brooks stated that he would be retired from recording and performing at least until his youngest daughter, Allie, turned 18. Despite ceasing to record new material between 2002 and (most of) 2005, Brooks continued to chart with previously recorded material, including a top 30 placing for "Why Ain't I Running" in 2003.
Brooks took a brief break from retirement early in 2005 to perform for several charity causes. With Yearwood, he sang Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop the Rain" on the Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast nationwide telethon for Hurricane Katrina relief. He also released a new single, "Good Ride Cowboy", as a tribute to his late friend, rodeo star and country singer, Chris LeDoux.
In early 2006 Wal-Mart issued The Lost Sessions as a single CD apart from the boxed set, with extra tracks including a top 25 duet with Yearwood, "Love Will Always Win". The couple were later nominated for a "Best Country Collaboration With Vocals" Grammy Award for the song.
On August 18, 2007, Brooks announced plans for a new boxed set called The Ultimate Hits. The new set features two discs containing 30 hits, three new songs, and a DVD featuring music videos for each of these songs. The album's first single, "More Than a Memory", was released to radio on August 27, 2007. "More Than a Memory" debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the highest-debuting single in the chart's history. The previous record had been set only one week earlier, when Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink" debuted at #16.
Then, in November 2007, Garth Brooks performed nine shows over ten nights at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. All nine shows sold out. Following his final performance, Brooks promised the sold-out crowd that if they "waited for him" he would return, leaving country fans across the world in anticipation for a comeback.
In June 2008, Great American Country (GAC) broadcasted a documentary about Brooks with a final segment regarding his potential comeback. The documentary ended with Brooks himself igniting the burning passion inside of his fans around the world when he stated, "If I was writing the story, this would not be the second half of my career, I see it as more of a football game. The first quarter was the Greatest hits in 95, the second quarter was the Ultimate Hits in 2007...give me thirty minutes, and I will be ready for kickoff".
On July 18 2008 Brooks performed Billy Joel's hit "Shameless" at Billy Joel - The Last Play at Shea Stadium in NYC in a sell out concert in front of 63,000 people. Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler and Roger Daltrey also joined Joel in the memorable concert.
The RIAA has since reexamined their methods for counting certifications. Under their revised methods, Presley became the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, making Brooks the number two solo artist, ranking third overall, as The Beatles have sold more albums than either he or Presley. The revision brought more criticism of the accuracy of the RIAA's figures, this time from Brooks' followers.
On November 5, 2007, Brooks was again named the best selling solo artist in US history, surpassing Presley (but still #2 after the Beatles) after audited sales of 123 million were announced. It has since been revealed that he had hit the mark a year prior, but at his request the RIAA held off for 12 months to coincide with the release of The Ultimate Hits.
The foundation enlists players to donate a predetermined sum of money depending on their game performance. Brooks has participated in spring training for the San Diego Padres in 1998 and 1999, the New York Mets in 2000 and, most recently, with the Kansas City Royals in 2004 to promote his foundation. Starting during the 2008 season, fans at Royals games in Kauffman Stadium now sing along to Friends in Low Places.
Brooks is also a fundraiser for various other charities, including a number of children's charities and famine relief. He has also donated at least $1 million to wildlife causes. It was announced that Garth would perform a charity concert on January 25 and 26, 2008 at the Staples Center for the victims of the recent Wildfires in California. On December 1st, tickets went on sale and sold out within minutes, prompting them to announce 3 more shows. All 5 L.A. shows sold out in 59 minutes. CBS aired the first of these concerts (January 25th at 9 pm) live, giving viewers a chance to donate to the Firefighters Relief efforts.